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Corrupt Conservatives, Like Sewage, Have Seeped Into Positions Of Power In The NY Democratic Party

Jay Jacobs-- destroying the NY Democratic Party from within

Ohio and Florida don’t have functioning statewide Democratic parties. Each state has little local Democratic machines in deep blue districts. Neither state party is capable of mounting a credible statewide campaign any longer. Sherrod Brown, who will be running for reelection next year, has his own apparatus and doesn’t worry about the dysfunctional Ohio state party. At this point, Florida is in even worse shape. New York is starting to circle the same drain. New York? Yep, New York. Perhaps you noticed the inept way the state party handled redistricting and the midterms, losing— through sheer and unadulterated incompetence— not just to George Santos but to Republicans in 6 districts that Biden had won two years earlier. These New York districts now have Republicans representing them in Congress:

  • NY-01- Nick LaLota (R+5 partisan lean)- Biden beat Trump 49.5% to 49.3%

  • NY-03- George Santos (D+4 partisan lean)- Biden beat Trump 53.6% to 45.4%

  • NY-04- Anthony D’Esposito (D+10 partisan lean)- Biden beat Trump 56.8% to 42.2%

  • NY-17- Mike Lawler (D+7 partisan lean)- Biden beat Trump 54.5% to 44.4%

  • NY-19- Marc Molinaro (R+1 partisan lean)- Biden beat Trump 51.3% to 46.7%

  • NY-22- Brandon Williams (D+2 partisan lean)- Biden beat Trump 52.6% to 45.2%

And the incompetent and corrupt party chair, Jay Jacobs, hasn’t been fired and is literally talking about running for Congress himself! Yesterday, the NY Times published a report by Ross Barkan, The Democratic Party in New York Is a Disaster. He wrote that “These days, New York is known as the deep-blue state where Democrats lost four seats on the way to losing the House of Representatives and effectively halting President Biden’s domestic agenda for the next two years. Kathy Hochul, [a rot gut conservative picked by Cuomo for no other reason than to attract rotgut conservatives to his banner] who served as Andrew Cuomo’s lieutenant governor before accusations of sexual harassment and assault forced him from office in 2021, won the narrowest race for governor in 28 years, beating Lee Zeldin, a Trump-supporting congressman from Long Island, by less than six points. While forecasts for a national red wave didn’t materialize— Democratic candidates for governor and the Senate were largely triumphant in tossup races across the country, and Chuck Schumer of Brooklyn remained the Senate majority leader— Democrats stumbled in territory on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley that Biden won handily just two years earlier.”

These disappointments have cast into sharp relief both the divisions within the party and the peculiar void of the state’s Democratic organization itself. Few New Yorkers cared, until late 2022, that the statewide Democratic apparatus operated, for the most part, as a hollowed-out appendage of the governor, a second campaign account that did little, if any, work in terms of messaging and turnout. New Hampshire, a state with roughly half the population of Queens, has a Democratic Party with 16 full-time paid staff members. New York’s has four, according to the state chairman, Jay Jacobs. One helps maintain social media accounts that update only sparingly. Most state committee members have no idea where the party keeps its headquarters, or if it even has one. (It does, at 50 Broadway in Manhattan.)
…Elsewhere in the country, state Democratic parties are much more robust than they are in New York. In Wisconsin, under the leadership of 42-year-old Ben Wikler, the party offered crucial organizing muscle in Gov. Tony Evers’s re-election win, staving off a Republican statewide sweep. The Nevada Democratic Party, despite infighting among moderates and progressives, aided Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s re-election, investing strongly in rural voter engagement. And in California, the party chair position is publicly contested among multiple candidates, with delegates voting as Democrats traverse the state and make their case in the media.
As for New York, observers across the ideological spectrum agree that the state is entering an unprecedented era, with warring political factions and a glaring power vacuum. Hochul recently became the first governor in New York history to have the State Legislature, controlled by Democrats, vote down her nominee to the state’s highest court. Progressives spearheaded opposition to the judge, Hector LaSalle, arguing that he was too conservative [which he was].
In challenging Hochul from the right, Zeldin was savagely effective— “Vote like your life depends on it,” he exhorted, echoing Richard Nixon, in the final days of the campaign— in seizing on suburban anxieties around [supposed] rising crime that Republicans in other states weren’t able to successfully exploit. While Manhattan and the combined might of upper-income white and middle-class Black voters thwarted Zeldin in the five boroughs, he made notable inroads with working-class Asian Americans, potentially heralding a political realignment for the city’s fastest growing demographic. Hochul’s campaign was assailed for its relative listlessness and failure to counter Republican attacks on crime. “That is an issue that had to be dealt with early on, not 10 days before the election,” Nancy Pelosi chided the governor. (Hochul’s staff did not make her available for an interview.)
…[N]ow the Democratic civil war rages. Jacobs, who is also the chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Party and is on his second tour leading the statewide organization, has come in for a drubbing. A week after the election, more than 1,000 Democrats signed a letter calling for Jacobs’s ouster. They included state legislators, City Council members, county leaders and members of New York’s 400-odd Democratic State Committee. Most of them belonged to the state’s progressive wing, which has grown only further emboldened since the fall. On Jan. 3, a number of them gathered outside City Hall to reiterate their demands: Jacobs must go.
“The party has to change, and it can’t change until we change the leadership,” George Albro, a co-chair of the New York Progressive Action Network, a left-wing organization formed from the remnants of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign, said in an interview. “From top to bottom, the Democratic Party in New York is a disaster.”
Until Cuomo’s downfall, Jacobs was known as a close ally of the imperious governor. His first tenure as party chairman came under Cuomo’s predecessor, David Paterson, but his second began in 2019, a year after Cuomo won a commanding re-election. That election cycle was notable because Cuomo overcame a primary challenge from the actress Cynthia Nixon, who targeted him from the ascendant left. Though Nixon lost, six insurgent progressives defeated members of the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group of centrist Democrats who had spent the last half decade in an unusual— and incredibly infuriating to progressives— power-sharing arrangement with State Senate Republicans. The I.D.C. had existed with Cuomo’s blessing, joining with Republicans to foil liberal priorities in the State Legislature, like tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants, tougher tenant protections and criminal-justice reforms. For Cuomo, a triangulating centrist determined to avoid having to sign or veto progressive bills while harboring dreams of the national stage, the arrangement worked just fine.
Since the state party, historically, has been a creature of the governor or the most powerful Democrat in the state, Jacobs is safe as long as Hochul tolerates him. And Hochul, some Democrats say, owes Jacobs for the work he did behind closed doors to ensure that the new governor had a comfortable primary win after Cuomo resigned and immediately began to plot a comeback. Jacobs’s fear was that a divided field could pave the way for a Cuomo revival, and he worked to rapidly hustle up institutional and financial support for Hochul that helped to deter another challenger, Attorney General Letitia James, from running against her. [This piece of putrid garbage pretending to be a Democrat:]
In 2021, after a democratic socialist, India Walton, defeated the longtime mayor of Buffalo and a former chairman of the state party, Byron Brown, in a contentious primary, Jacobs refused to endorse Walton. “Let’s take a scenario, very different, where David Duke— You remember him? The grand wizard of the KKK? He moves to New York, he becomes a Democrat and he runs for mayor in the city of Rochester, which has a low primary turnout, and he wins the Democratic line. I have to endorse David Duke? I don’t think so,” Jacobs said in a television interview, before clarifying that Walton “isn’t in the same category, but it just leads you to that question, Is it a must? It’s not a must. It’s something you choose to do.”
Outraged progressives called for Jacobs’ resignation. He refused to go, and Hochul, who is from the Buffalo area and remains close to Brown, did not force Jacobs out. Brown, with tacit approval from the governor and Jacobs, then won the mayoralty with a write-in campaign that November, drawing support from Republicans to crush Walton.
A year later, Jacobs explored ways of undercutting the established vehicle for left-wing organizing in the state, the Working Families Party, a hybrid of party activists and labor unions that had endorsed Jumaane Williams over Hochul in the primary. He cut a check to a [vile conservative pretend] Democrat trying to primary Jamaal Bowman, a Westchester County congressman and a member of the Squad, the prominent group of far-left members of Congress, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. After Republicans swept Democrats out of power in the New York suburbs last fall, Jacobs quickly blamed the left. “New York did underperform, but so did California,” Jacobs told the politics publication City & State in November. “What do those two states have in common? Well, governmentally, we’re among the two most progressive states in the country.”
…Jacobs described the party as a “housekeeping organization” and a “coordinating entity” that works among labor unions, campaigns and other interest groups. He cited the maintenance of a voter file that campaigns use to target the electorate as among its most important work, as well as establishing campaign offices at election time. Fund-raising, too, is a big part of the work, and it’s there where Jacobs has been especially useful. A multimillionaire and prolific donor, Jacobs has given more than $1 million to various Democratic candidates and causes over the last two decades. It can be argued that it’s this wealth, in part, that has allowed him to continuously lead the Nassau County party since 2001. Few staunch Democrats are both better wired and more willing to cut checks than Jacobs.
…Last August, Jacobs donated $2,900— the maximum allowable amount— to a county legislator trying to unseat Bowman. The congressman won by 38 points anyway.
“I don’t know Jay Jacobs,” Bowman told me. “I’ve never talked to him on the phone. I’ve never met him in my life. Even though I was a newcomer in 2020, I was still duly elected, and I’m a member of the party now. One would’ve thought that the leader of the party would have reached out to have a cup of coffee or have a conversation.”
Should Jacobs resign? “The short answer is yes,” Bowman answered. “But the more, I think, comprehensive nuanced answer or question is, What the hell are we even doing? You know, the whole thing about the corporate agenda, which I think Jay Jacobs and maybe even Governor Hochul and maybe others are missing is, when you talk about younger voters, millennials or Gen Z, they are not aligned with corporate interests over labor and working-class people.”
Greg Meeks, the Queens congressman and chairman of the county organization there [and one of the most repulsively corrupt members of Congress], echoes Jacobs’s [disingenuous] critique: The progressive and socialist left has cost Democrats in general elections by forcing them to defend positions he believes are alienating. “Extremes cannot be the dominant part of a party, because it isolates everyone else,” Meeks says. “What’s not good for all of us is talking about defunding the police.”
Because Hochul Hochul inherited Jacobs, his critics have hoped she would ditch him for someone who might take a more active role in the sort of tasks that party chairs in other states care far more about: recruiting candidates, shaping the party’s message, funding voter-outreach campaigns that begin many months ahead of a general election and even hiring a full-time communications director and research staff. Among some Hochul allies, there has been quiet frustration directed at one of her top advisers, Adam Sullivan, who speaks frequently with Jacobs on Hochul’s behalf. Sullivan holds great sway in Hochul’s world because he managed her successful campaign for Congress more than a decade ago. Despite his low profile and the fact that his consulting firm, ACS Campaign Consulting, is based in Colorado, where he lives, Sullivan was one of a select few aides Hochul thanked in her victory speech. Sullivan himself disputes that there’s any behind-the-scenes friction. “The governor is completely committed to building a strong, robust party,” Sullivan says. “Everyone in her orbit is on the same page.” What isn’t clear is whether that page, and the vision for the future of the state party, includes Jacobs.
…The only Democratic governor in modern times to care about the future of the state party and down-ballot candidates was Eliot Spitzer, who won a landslide victory in 2006 and would resign, a little more than a year later, in a prostitution scandal. Spitzer was a proud liberal who wanted to break the Republican hold on the State Senate. The party, too, was trying to modernize in anticipation of Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for president. For a brief period, under the leadership of Denny Farrell, an influential state assemblyman from Manhattan, talented operatives were hired, and Spitzer’s aides tried to implement a strategy for boosting legislative candidates.
“The party itself had really dissipated,” recalls Spitzer, now a real estate developer. His team helped recruit and fund an upstate Democratic candidate who won a pivotal special election for a State Senate seat in early 2008. “It was partly fund-raising, partly finding the right candidates, partly putting the right energy into it.”
The rise of Andrew Cuomo, who had a near-dictatorial hold on political affairs for nearly the entirety of the 2010s, put an end to nascent party-building plans. Cuomo treated Democratic politics as an extension of Cuomo politics, hoovering up resources and kneecapping Democrats he viewed as a threat. He was content to let Republicans keep the State Senate and rarely campaigned for House candidates. Donald Trump’s election, coupled with Sanders’s 2016 bid, would radicalize a new generation of Democrats. Soon, a democratic socialist candidate was winning a State Senate seat, and Working Families Party-supported insurgents were driving out the conservative Democrats who had chosen to align themselves with the Republican Party.
By 2018, Ocasio-Cortez had felled one of the most powerful party bosses in New York, a sign that the left could win its battles against the establishment. “We need Democrats who are not running from their own shadow,” says Sochie Nnaemeka, the New York director of the Working Families Party.
The widening fissures are both ideological and geographical. Manhattan and Brooklyn Democrats saved Hochul in November, but so did Westchester County, which once upon a time was a Republican stronghold. Democrats there gave Hochul a 20-point margin over Zeldin after Biden flew in to campaign for her. Westchester has continued to mirror national trends, as affluent suburbs grow Democratic, but Republicans have remained remarkably resilient on Long Island. Home to lavish estates, as well as growing Orthodox Jewish communities and a rising Asian American electorate newly alienated by Democrats, along with a working- and middle-class vote forever skeptical of big-city liberalism, the eastern suburb backed Zeldin by double digits. In recent years, the Hudson Valley has grown bluer, with city residents scooping up comparatively cheaper real estate during the pandemic, yet Zeldin carried Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Orange Counties, where Trump-era enthusiasm for Democrats gave way to backlash over rising crime south of the former Tappan Zee Bridge (renamed for Mario Cuomo by his son).
Jacobs can credibly argue that the progressivism or outright socialism that wins in Brooklyn or Queens can’t be easily sold in Nassau County. But Bowman and his cohort can ask why he neglects the younger voters moving left— or, for that matter, why he fails to build out an organization that can be credibly called a political party, the kind that is more than one man and a few aides conducting political business from a summer-camp office. In a 10-page report issued in January, Jacobs pinned Democratic losses on historically high Republican turnout, a contention backed by data. But shouldn’t a state party’s task be, in part, to turn out its own voters? Had enough Democrats been motivated to vote, George Santos would never have been sworn in as a congressman.
“What we saw is a party that did not know what role they should play,” Nnaemeka says, “and therefore played no role.”


1 Comment

Feb 24, 2023

Howie, this is good stuff. Much better than some of the crap you've been posting lately. I missed Ross Barkan's article when it first came up, so I'm glad you saw - as I did - how well he trashed Jacobs, fact by fact, event by event. This is what we need on this site. Fact-based reporting.

The NY Dem Party, like its sick sisters in Ohio and Florida, desperately needs $ infusion to support true PROGRESSIVE leadership. Thank you again for pointing this out, and all of the ramifications of what GOOD results from progressive activism, and what shit results from the "work" of status-quo conservadems.

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